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Jason Schreier's Top 10 Games Of 2019 – Kotaku

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It’s been a challenging year for many reasons here at Kotaku—well, really just one reason—and I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that 2019 had a lot of really cool video games. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

From lightsabers to logic puzzles, here are my top ten games of the year, starting with three games that completely blew me away followed by seven games I loved a lot.

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Outer Wilds

Combining the time-hopping structure of Majora’s Mask with the ambitious spacefaring of Metroid, Outer Wilds is one of the best games I’ve ever played, period. It’s a treat to play through, a cerebral and rewarding archaeological adventure through deep space and goofy ancient alien civilizations. The controls take some getting used to, but once you’ve started getting the hang of Outer Wilds’s rhythms, unraveling its mysteries is a real joy. And the music! The music! What a game, what an accomplishment, what an ending, what an experience. If you haven’t played this, please do. [Played on: PC]


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Disco Elysium

Take the old-school isometric gameplay of Planescape: Torment, strip out the combat, and stuff it full of brilliant stories to create Disco Elysium, a game about decay, communism, and choosing whether or not to stick your thumb in your ass. Although it’s really more of a visual novel than a role-playing game, Disco Elysium should appeal to anyone who loves narrative, great writing, and games that make you really sit and ponder the potential consequences of your decisions. Plus you can have a heart attack from kicking a mailbox too hard. [Played on: PC]

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Baba Is You

One of the fundamental principles of game design is to take an idea, introduce it to the player in as simple as way as possible, and then find ways to make it increasingly more complicated or subverted throughout the game. Baba Is You executes this principle about as well as any game I’ve ever played. The concept is straightforward: every word is an object or state, and every sentence is a rule. Beating a level requires you to make contact between whatever object is “You” and whatever object is “Win.” All you can do is move in the four cardinal directions and push words and objects around. The first few levels are straightforward. Then, things start getting trickier. The words grow more complicated, the objects are placed in tougher locations, the levels start to convince you you’re a genius for solving them. Soon enough, you’ll feel like you’ve ascended to your very own version of the galaxy brain meme. [Played on: Switch]

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

This was the year I really fell in love with From Software games—after only sort of appreciating them before—so it’s no surprise that Sekiro blew me away, even if I did get stuck on that Genichiro fight (stupid lightning) and had to stop playing for a while. What I love most about this game is the verticality. Hopping around and flinging yourself through the air with a grappling hook is just about as fun as it gets, even when you know that every time you die, one of your buddies gets the plague. [Played on: PC]

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Whereas most of my favorite games of 2019 were innovative and original, sometimes you just have to appreciate a good piece of comfort food. Jedi Fallen Order takes the best parts of every AAA game out there—the sword fighting of Sekiro, the power climb of Metroid, the cinematic scale of God of War, the climbing of Uncharted—and puts them all in a beautiful, well-designed package that never feels stale. It’s also got the best Star Wars story of the year by far. [Played on: PC]

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Control

I have an appreciation for video games that feel like novels, and Remedy’s Control is up there with the best of them, combining smooth, satisfying combat with a clear artistic point of view. The ending is a little underwhelming, but exploring the Oldest House is really delightful, and the art direction is something to behold. Also, you can fly. [Played on: PC]

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Dragon Quest Builders 2

The first Dragon Quest Builders was a lovely surprise, a combination of Dragon Quest and Minecraft that out-shined them both. The second improves upon its predecessor in just about every way, streamlining some of the first game’s fiddlier aspects and adding some grand new features, like a Breath of the Wild-style hang-glider that lets you soar across the map. Perhaps my favorite part of the game is that you can go explore other people’s creations. I’ll never have the time or wherewithal to build a massive, bustling town in Dragon Quest Builders 2, but I sure am glad other people did. [Played on: Switch]

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

There are nearly 20 screenshots on the Nintendo Switch page for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but not a single one contains actual gameplay. They’re all just anime characters in different poses. Really, is there any better way to sum up this game? [Played on: Switch]

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Shovel Knight: King of Cards

This year marked the end of the Shovel Knight saga, which started with a humble Kickstarter in 2013 and somehow morphed into five games along the way. The developers at Yacht Club Games have clearly honed their platforming design skills over those years, as King of Cards is the best one yet. The levels are short, sweet, and full of secrets. The optional card game is better than you’d guess. And King Knight—the petulant, horrifying hero of this prequel story—has a Wario-like heft to his moves that make the game feel weighty and really satisfying. [Played on: Switch]

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CrossCode

This is a bit of a cheat. Technically, CrossCode came out last year, but I didn’t discover it until the end of December, and it became one of my go-to games throughout 2019. CrossCode is a modern take on a Super Nintendo action-RPG (think: Terranigma et al) but adds enough unique twists to feel special. It’s a single-player game, but it’s set mainly within a fictional MMORPG called CrossCode, allowing for some interesting storytelling and many good jokes. (Some of your party members might duck out because they have to log off and do their homework.) The combat feels great, the bosses are tough and satisfying, and the dungeons are full of brilliant Zelda-style puzzles. (The overworld is full of puzzles, too. If you like puzzles, this is the game for you.) This is one of those games that will likely get a ton of attention next year when it comes to Switch, so if you play it now, you can be ahead of the curve. [Played on: PC]

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Runners-up: AI: The Somnium Files, Zelda: Link’s Awakening,

Game I got into this year for the first time and, holy shit man: Bloodborne

Games that might have made the list if I’d had time to play more of them:  Luigi’s Mansion 3, Astral Chain, Judgement, Untitled Goose Game, Guildlings

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Game I know I’d absolutely love if I had the time to play it: Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers 

Game I need to play more for reasons beyond fun: Ring Fit Adventure

Website I wish hadn’t been murdered: Deadspin

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Flying car: Canadians bring flying car one step closer to reality – Globalnews.ca

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A flying car could allow us to get from point A to B, exploring the skies while never sitting in traffic.

This technology is no longer the stuff of fantasy. Numerous companies around the world are racing to make theirs available.

Canada’s Marcus Leng leads one of them.

“I think we’ve all had dreams of complete three-dimensional freedom,” said Leng, who is the CEO of Opener, a company developing a personal aerial vehicle.

As a young boy walking to school, he would wonder if there would ever be an aircraft that you could just jump in “and be able to take off vertically and fly wherever you wanted.”

He started designing and building prototypes in his basement in the small community of Warkworth, Ont.

Read more:
Ground-breaking flying taxi cruises through Paris

“I think our house became a factory,” he recalls.

“The basement was used for basically doing all the structure work … and the kitchen was basically used for manufacturing motors,” he told Global’s current affairs show, The New Reality. “We used to bake the motors in the oven. Boy, would that stink.”

It took over a year for him to fly his first proof-of-concept vehicle in his front yard.

“I found myself eventually at the end of our driveway and my friends and neighbours … were behind a barrier of cars that we had set up,” Leng said.


Marcus Leng flying BlackFly. Photo: Opener.


Opener

“And I figure, just like in skiing, I’ll do a skidding turn in front of them. All went very well, except during the skidding turn, the edge of the wing made contact with the lawn … but the propulsion systems reacted so fast that it basically created this long divot as it scraped through grass without the aircraft losing any control.”

Using eVTOL, which stands for electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing, Leng said he was able to produce a vehicle that doesn’t need a runway to get off the ground.

It’s called BlackFly. Some people often refer to it as a flying car. Leng calls it a personal aerial vehicle designed to fit one person.

Read more:
Flying car completes intercity test flight in Slovakia

Anyone up to six feet six inches and weighing 200 pounds or less can use it.

It has a joystick, can fly in -20 Celsius weather, and operate in about 32 km/h winds.

“In the United States, which is our primary market, we have very serious weight restrictions. So, the American vehicles have a 20-plus mile (32 km) range for an operator that’s 200 pounds,” Leng said.

“In Canada, we don’t have those weight constraints and also we don’t have speed constraints,” said Leng, who in 2014 relocated the majority of his operations to Palo Alto, Calif.

One of the key features about BlackFly is you don’t need a pilot’s licence to fly it.

According to Leng, a potential owner would have to complete a training course and be at least 18 years old.

The nice thing about our vehicle is (that in) both the United States and Canada (it’s) classified as an ultralight aircraft,” he said. “In Canada, you require an ultralight licence, which is relatively easy and straightforward to obtain.”

In order to fly it, you need to take a short training course.

I think the most unique thing is that I can be an operator, you can be an operator … in the course of about two days and a few hours of simulation how to safely fly this aircraft,” said Kristina Menton, who is the director of operations, flight testing and propulsion lead at Opener.

“That is something that is exceptionally novel and really incredible — to be able to give that type of experience of three-dimensional flight to regular people.”  


Kristina Menton, director of operations at Opener, flying BlackFly.


Opener

She said the aircraft is almost exclusively made from carbon fibre, including the wings, fuselage and propellers. It’s electric, and therefore emissions-free.

“We have autoland features. So basically, when you get close to the ground, the aircraft will take over,” Menton said.

Canadians who help make BlackFly … fly

Menton has been working on BlackFly for years. When she first signed on with the company, she had no idea what product she’d be working on.

“I first met Marcus on a phone call the day before my last exam of university. He was looking to hire two mechanical engineers. At the time, the company was completely in stealth mode and he wasn’t able to say what the product was, who the investors were, really any of the technical details,” Menton told Global News.

“But I could get from the phone call that it was a pretty exciting and innovative opportunity and decided to take the leap to jump on board.”

She wasn’t the only one who took the leap. Eleanor Li, Menton’s classmate at the University of Toronto in mechanical engineering, did too. She joined Opener and moved to Silicon Valley without knowing the project she was hired to work on.

“Marcus basically came along and said, ‘Oh, we’re making this huge carbon epoxy part. Do you want to be part of our team?’ And I just said, ‘Yes, yes, here I am,’” said Li, who is now the plant manager at Opener.


Eleanor Li, plant manager at Opener, in a flight simulator at the company headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.


Global News

For years, Leng had been secretly working on his invention while recruiting.

It wasn’t until 2018 that he started letting the world get a glimpse of BlackFly.

In July 2021, Li, Menton and Leng flew Blackfly at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisc. The annual event can bring in hundreds of thousands of spectators.

“The flight is incredible. You have a panoramic view of anywhere,” said Li. “I told this to a few people at Oshkosh: when you’re in the aircraft, you feel like you are the aircraft and the aircraft is you.”

The team is working hard to make the aircraft available to consumers soon.

But first adopters will only be able to fly in rural areas. BlackFly is not allowed to go over built-up areas.

Leng is keeping the price tag to himself, but he believes as the industry advances, BlackFly will become more accessible to people.

“Our objective for next year is to produce 260 vehicles. But the ultimate goal is to be producing tens of thousands of these at a price that would be in line with an SUV,” he said.

See this and other original stories about our world on The New Reality airing Saturday nights on Global TV, and online.

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Poll: The Hype For Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy Is High, Is It In Your Switch Plans? – Nintendo Life

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Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition getting official release details, along with a trailer and lots of screens, was certainly the standout and dominant news item at the end of the week. Perhaps counter to expectations the visual overhaul is a bit more than a simple upscale, with the footage looking rather familiar but undoubtedly fresh. That’s not to say it would be mistaken for footage of games developed from scratch in the 2020s, as characters in particular still have that angular look familiar from past generations.

The official information does point to key gameplay changes, such as controls more in tune with what players know from GTA V. Yet we’d suggest those control updates will need to be good; you may have fond memories of the original ‘3D’ GTA trilogy, but they’re of their time and don’t necessarily feel particularly smooth to play now. Perhaps The Trilogy will fix that, it’s certainly one of the big tests it’ll face.

Another question will be how it’ll stack up on Switch. We don’t think it’s a particularly outrageous suggestion to say we’ll be looking at it targeting 30fps on Nintendo’s system, at best, and if previous reports were accurate and Unreal Engine has been used, that makes some caution advisable. While Unreal games can certainly run on Switch, the system’s library is also full of dodgy ports where the different iterations of the engine simply don’t play nice with the hardware. Here’s hoping that the sheer volume of resources at Rockstar’s disposal – and the knowledge that the release could be a big seller on Switch – will ensure that a carefully optimised version arrives on the hybrid.

Image: Rockstar

As for the release details, it’s split up between eShop and retail. The digital / eShop version isn’t far away on 11th November, while those that want the physical edition need to wait until 7th December. It’ll cost £49.99 / $59.99, though that is three games in the package of course, while the file size is 25.4GB; we’ll need to wait and see whether Rockstar will opt for a Switch cartridge big enough to hold the full package or force mandatory downloads. We’ll keep an eye out for updates.

For some this trilogy release will be revisiting old classics, and no doubt for many it’ll represent their first playthroughs of these iconic games. We’re curious where you fall in these categories, so by all means pitch in with the polls and comments below – is this a November (eShop) or December (physical) pick-up for you?

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Epic Games opposes Apple's effort to pause antitrust trial orders – Reuters

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Smartphone with Epic Games logo is seen in front of Apple logo in this illustration taken, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oct 22 (Reuters) – “Fortnite” creator Epic Games on Friday opposed Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) efforts to put on hold orders handed down in an antitrust trial as a potentially lengthy appeals process plays out.

U.S. district Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in September struck down some of the iPhone maker’s App Store rules, including a prohibition on developers directing their users to other payment options beside Apple’s in-app payment system, in a partial win for Epic and other app makers. read more

Apple has until Dec. 9 to comply with the injunction, but earlier this month the company said it will appeal the ruling and asked Gonzalez Rogers to put her order on hold as the appeals process, which could take more than a year, unfolds.

Epic on Friday argued in a court filing that Apple has not met the legal standard for that pause, which requires Apple show that it will be irreparably harmed by even temporarily complying with the order if the injunction is later reversed on appeal.

Epic said that Apple’s positive comments about the ruling shortly after it landed, and its delay in asking for a pause, showed that it would not be harmed by enacting the orders.

“The public interest favors denying (Apple’s request); an injunction is the only path to effective relief,” Epic wrote. “History shows … that in the absence of an injunction, Apple will not make any changes.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A hearing on Apple’s request is set for Nov. 9.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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